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Cautionary Tale of Maurice Clarett


The All-Time Great
Jul 19, 2009
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Bethesda Md
While we are all looking forward to an offseason of good free agent acquisitions (from the meager list we are now seeing) and draft picks, the WP article today on Maurice Clarett and his attempt to gain work release from prison reminds us that there is at least one glaring example in the past where Mike Shanahan ignored the consensus of scouts league-wide to pass on Clarett in the draft due to character and lingering legal issues. He was also 25pounds out of shape for his private workouts.

But Shanahan used a #3 pick on him anyway and he had nary a carry in a Broncos uniform.

This just points up how closely Shanahan, Campbell, Brown and Allen need to work in the offseason to ensure that type of risky call, akin to the one taken by Cerrato in drafting oft-injured Malcolm Kelly, is avoided as the Redskins try and rebuild their core of talent and depth.
How many players were rated by most scouts as 3rd round prospects, and never played a down in the NFL? I would bet its a whole lot. How many first-round busts have we seen, where the player was a consensus top-5 pick?

All this says is that the draft is a gamble, and Shanahan knows this and is willing to roll the dice. No more, no less.
Well, in this case I don't agree because of the obvious off the field problems that dogged Clarett.

It is one thing to take a risk on a player who perhaps didn't face premiere competition coming from a small conference, it is quite another to take on a troubled child who other teams are passing on left and right because of his propensity for self-destructive behavior.
Eh, teams drafting players with "off-field issues" is nothing new. The list of NFL players who had them and went on to productive and some times superstar careers in the league is a very long one.
In most cases I would agree with you Lanky. The draft is a crap shoot, leaving you with what look like great picks that bust out (Ryan Leaf, Todd Marinovich, etc) and questionable picks that work out great (Randy Moss comes to mind).

In the case of Clarett I think it was pretty cut and dried though. The thought that Shanahan had over-reached badly was pretty much universal and immediate in the league. It was something of a given that he could have waited till the 6th or 7th round to draft Clarett and might even have gotten him as an undrafted FA.

Granted, had it worked, Shanahan would have added to his "brilliant" rep but those were long, long odds at best and there were a lot of guys on the board who could have helped that Broncos team. In the 29 picks that followed Denver taking Clarett guys like Marion Barber III, Brandon Jacobs and Darren Sproles were all taken. Consider for a moment who successful any of those backs might have been under Shanahan.
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When the Skins HAVE a 3rd round pick, they seem to miss about as often as they hit. Seeing as we don't have one this year, we won't have to worry about a Clarett-type pick.

I think Mike has learned his lesson and I'm sure Bruce Allen will weigh in heavily on any potential picks with character issues. He had a little too much control in Denver and made several mistakes in the draft and in FA. Hopefully, that experience will prove invaluable going forward.
I made this post just to keep things real. Shanahan is a very good coach but he is not Bill Parcells when it comes to judging personnel. He has had his share of misses especially in free agency - anyone remember Darryl Gardener? Signed him to a big contract despite all the back problems and attitude issues. Had to buy him out the next year.

The one thing that raise a red flag was when the AFC GM noted that 'Shanahan started to ignore his scouts' and started to rely more and more on his own judgment.

Assuming the scouts were competent, that was not a good sign.

Checks and balances are necessary.
Too big for his britches in denver if you ask me... I think he has come back hungry and has Allen and his kid there to keep him in check! I look forward to seeing him prove all the mo. clarett pick naysayers wrong... First RB he didn't hit on in a long time, right?
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Adams was rated top 10 by almost everyone I remember during that draft.

Sometimes a guy with all the measureables just doesn't transition as well as expected.

I would blame Allen less for that pick than I would Shanahan for Clarett.

Tha latter appeared to be more of a wild swing for the fences when there were better backs still available that didn't have the same issues.
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